Overcoming challenges in life is something we all must learn to do. I grew up in a home with ridiculous amounts of drug and alcohol use, was a care-giver to my ill wife for many years, had a house burn down, was widowed at thirty-four years old, was a single parent with three daughters under eight, remarried four years later, had a baby pass away at birth, survived a devastating divorce, had a once successful company go out of business, suffered bankruptcy, and struggled with intense depression.
In other words, I have lived a life filled with challenges, different than you, but no more or no less difficult. Overcoming challenges is something I needed to learn or I knew I wouldn’t survive.
Today I’ve never been happier.
What changes you make in your life can determine if you heal or wallow in the pain of grief. This is true no matter what type of challenge you face and overcoming it only possible when you let go of negative thoughts and take control.
Whether its addiction, illness, depression, poverty, loss of a loved one or even just a bad day at work, overcoming challenges is something we all must do. How we handle them makes all the difference in whether we find joy or continue in suffering. Overcoming challenges starts with a positive attitude and changing our point of view on the things that aren’t working in our life.
But that is just the start.
I know it’s not easy to bounce back from adversity but it is possible if you have a strong mind and determination. What seems insurmountable in the moment will be much easier when you take a step back and look at it through a different lens. If something doesn’t work in your life change it up until you find what works for you because overcoming adversities takes practice and overcoming obstacles can build character. How you do that is the key to overcoming challenges and ensuring a fulfilled life.
Here are some of the tips I found to be life changing:
Tip #1: Find Your Passion
Passions are placed inside of each of us by divinity. You could say that your passions are the signature of God within you. Obviously, we are not referring to passions that are tied to romance and infatuation. Rather, we understand that passions are those things that bring enthusiasm to your life. The very thought of being involved in the things you are passionate about immediately brings a sense of joy. Imagine that, simply thinking about what you are passionate about generates happiness. When you actually participate in and develop those passions, you can generate a life that is joyful in every way. It is up to you to recognize the gifts given you and develop those passions. To ignore them, which most of us do, is to ensure limited happiness. If we ignore them long enough, they will simply disappear.
Tip #2: Remove Toxic People from Your Life
Have you ever thought, (insert name here) is such a good person most of the time, but sometimes he/she hurts me? Then as time continues on, the moments of pain start to increase and the times of love decrease. The good person becomes less and less good. For some reason, we often believe that those closest to us, have free reign to hurt us and treat us poorly. They do not! Often times religions will refer to our body as a temple. I love that! Our body indeed is a temple, that houses you and God, because you are inseparable from God. We, therefore, must treat it as hallowed ground.
Your life is holy, sacred territory and it is okay to remove toxic people that bring negativity to it. They are often someone close to you which makes it all the more difficult. It may be a husband that demeans you, a parent that emotionally abuses you, a friend that takes advantage of you. It can be virtually any relationship. The challenge is that you love this person and you see the good in them and keep hoping the good will overcome the bad. On top of that, the prevailing culture is that you should forgive them, after all, “they are family.” Forgiveness should come eventually, but forgiveness doesn’t mean granting access to your life.
Simply, if a person doesn’t bring joy to your life but rather brings negativity, you have every right to remove that person from it.
Tip #3: Find Opportunities to Serve Others
Simply, by doing acts of kindness toward others you will greatly influence your own happiness. Service is the elixir to cure unhappiness. Do it with consistency, authenticity, and gentleness and you will find joy.
I do a lot of work with the homeless. I have found that working with these troubled souls has taught me so much. Many people look upon the homeless with callousness at times, imploring them to “get a job.” I look at them as souls who can teach us empathy, kindness, patience, and love.
Find someone who can teach you love and serve them.
Tip #4: Become an Artist
This doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy a canvas and oil paints. There is this tremendous book that has been on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, and digital shelves of Amazon for 30 years or so. It is called The Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron. In this book she teaches how writing the “morning pages” can open you up to new opportunities both in thought and action. The morning pages are writing without a specific purpose or topic. Just writing every day.
Creating something, anything at all, is a divine act. Think about it, when you are creating something, you are making something that wasn’t there previously. God is a creator, by creating you are engaging in god-like behavior. It can truly be anything. I hear frequently “I haven’t got a creative bone in my body.” First, that just isn’t true. Everyone is creative, you have just been taught the wrong definition of what is “creativity.” Creativity is the organizing of elements into something new and different. There is nothing about how good it looks or sounds. It can be traditional art like music or painting, but also creativity can be found in math, science, or virtually any other avocation. Creativity is simply the act of creating something that will resonate with your soul and bring you joy. Create without judgment and you will find joy in that moment.
Tip #5: Connect to the Divine
All of us have our own beliefs in what God is or is not. I do not care what your particular beliefs are about the existence of God. In fact, I don’t even care if you believe in a traditional God. All I ask is that you consider that there is a higher force, be it mother nature or a bearded man on a heavenly throne. With that open mind I am going to suggest that you connect with Him/Her/It in a very simple way.
Before I ever read The Artist’s Way, I started a similar process to the “morning pages” that I call “Dear God, Dear Son.” Every morning when I wake up, as part of my morning routine, I write a hand-written letter (usually just a few paragraphs) to God. I start it simply by writing, “Dear God,” and then just let the words go. I don’t worry about grammar or spelling, I just write what is on my mind and continue until it stops. Then I go inside of me, and I listen…and I listen…then I start writing again, starting with “Dear Son,” which is a response to my initial paragraphs. Don’t worry about anything other than writing. You will be shocked at the insight you will receive that comes through your writing. I believe that it is a form of prayer to the Divine. It may only be my mind working through the issues of the day. I just don’t care what’s involved, since I believe that God and I are inseparately connected in such a way that these thoughts are from God, regardless of the mechanism or process.
This is only an idea on how to connect to the Divine. Some can connect with God by traditional prayer. Some kneel and bow their heads, believing that in that humble act they are more open to God. Others talk like He/She/It is the neighbor over the fence.
Regardless of your process, connecting with God can truly help you in overcoming challenges in your life.
Tip #6: Engage the Power of Intention
My spiritual journey started many years ago and included a time when I read The Power of Intention by the remarkable Dr. Wayne Dyer. I was always naturally a driven, motivated person and routinely set goals. Setting goals culturally was looked upon as a positive life-enriching activity. As I have grown spiritually, I have found that there is a significant difference between goals and intention. Goals are things you want, typically driven by culture or selfish self-aggrandizing want. Things like best job, big house, more money, etc. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but can be if the ego is involved. Simply, if they are focused on benefiting you at the expense of others, they are not divine. They ultimately include competition and thoughts of scarcity, a my-gain-is-your-loss attitude. Intention on the other hand is completely driven by feelings of gratitude, joy, and love and a compassion and concern for the well-being of others. Ego driven selfish feelings cannot co-exist with feelings of gratitude, joy, and love. Intention typically is meant to enrich the lives of others through service and feelings of abundance. Goals are meant to enrich you. Period. Intention and goals in reality then, are opposite, conflicting principles.
You frequently see intention tied to manifestation or the principles known as the law of attraction. Entire books are written on this subject and I can’t do it justice in a couple paragraphs here. The key takeaway is to understand that you can manifest, or bring to pass, the greatest desires of your heart. You do this by engaging the power of intention. How to manifest your dreams and desires is a beautiful pursuit. The reality is, you are manifesting the things in your life, whether you know it or not. By controlling what you manifest you will truly enhance your life and ensure you are on the divine journey meant for you in this life. In fact, I believe that the very fact that you are spending time with me reading this, you are learning the next steps into expanding your awareness and spiritual journey. By learning to manifest you are embracing your role as co-creator with God a life filled with joy and fulfillment.
Tip #7: Physical Activity
Get up and move. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym, though I highly encourage that. It really just means being active and not camping out on the couch. Sometimes when you are feeling unhappy or even depressed, just getting up and moving is the hardest thing to do. So, I don’t say this without recognizing how difficult it can be. However, just getting up can immediately influence how you feel. Get up, get moving, get happy.
The single greatest influencer to your long-term happiness is an ongoing feeling of gratitude. Gratitude at a time when you are feeling attacked, overwhelmed, and mired in adversity isn’t always easy to conjure up. First, you must understand that regardless of the adversity you are feeling, there are always many things for which you can be grateful. Find those things, put them in an affirmation, and repeat them often. Really gratitude is a state of mind, not a state of being. Let me re-state that differently. Gratitude comes from what you think and feel inside, not from what exists outside.
These are a handful of suggestions I have used personally to build and maintain a beautiful, joyous life. They truly are principles that can help you overcome challenges and find true happiness. By engaging intention you find clarity, by being active you avoid wallowing in pain, by participating in your passions you feel moved and emotionally connected, by creating and connecting to the Divine you feel deeper understanding, and by serving others you will find purpose. But it starts with changing your state of mind, changing your attitude, if you will. Start today because tomorrow is beautiful.
One of my favorite books of all time is The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It truly helped me during very challenging times. If you are interested in my story and how I healed from the death of my beloved wife, you should check out my article Healing from Trauma: A Story of Hope.